Monday, August 31, 2009

Flash Fiction Contest!

Welcome writers! My co-author, JB Kohl, and I would like to invite you into our world. Our book, One Too Many Blows To The Head is about to be released. It is about the dark world of crooked boxing and the Kansas City underworld in 1939. We want you to read it. In fact, we're willing to give you an autographed copy. All you have to do is share a story with us. Here's how it works:
The working title of our book was FIST. We scrapped that short, punchy title for the much longer and hopefully more evocative one above. What we want from you is a short story, under 1000 words, that uses a fist as the inspiration. It can be a literal fist, a metaphorical fist, a fist used in a fight, a fist clenched but never used -- you're writers, you decide. We want to see what our seedy world inspires in you.
The top three stories that amaze us, shock us and make us suck wind like a shot to the gut will be prizewinners. It's that simple.

First prize is a four-book pack including One Too Many Blows To The Head autographed by both authors, a copy of JB Kohl's first novel The Deputy's Widow, autographed by her, an autographed copy of Carpet Ride by Norm Brown a fellow Second Wind Publishing author and finally a copy of Murder in Winnebago County autographed by fellow Second Winder Christine Husom.
Second prize is a signed copy of One Too Many Blows To The Head and a signed copy of The Deputy's Widow.
Third prize is a signed copy of One Too Many Blows To The Head.
Also for the first prize winner, your story will be published at A Twist of Noir Much thanks to Christopher Grant for trusting that the quality of submissions will be high enough that he agreed to publish the story sight unseen.
JB and I will narrow down the submissions to a top ten at which point they will go to a panel of judges, not us, for a final verdict. Votes cannot be bought by becoming a Facebook fan or blogging about our book to your readers or spreading the word about the Oct. 1st release date. Did I say cannot be bought? I meant can. (Okay, I can feel Jennifer frowning from all the way across the country so, no, I guess they can't be bought that way. We won't say no to the mention though)
Submissions are open right now and will be open until the end of Sept. Winners to be announced here and at A Twist of Noir on Oct 15th.
All stories, of course, remain solely the author's property and after the contest is closed you can do whatever you like with them. If you'd like to mention that it was written as a part of this contest we'd love it if you mention the book. We're not dumb. We want to sell a few copies to more than our parents.
Above all we want you to wow us. Blow us away. Tell us a story we never would have thought of.
Copy the text of the story (no attachments please) into the body of an email and send to: with the word submission in the subject line. I will acknowledge receipt of your story and then you have to just wait it out until the results. Please include a short bio in the event that your story is published.

That's all. Hit us hard - we can't wait to see what you come up with. Please help us spread the word about the contest and the book and support your local independent bookseller and indie crime authors. Second Wind is a good place to start.
(Special thanks to Norm and Christine for supplying a copy of their book. That's four top flight doses of crime for the low low price of free. You won't be disappointed)

Coincidence or not?

I am reading a book now by a well established and highly respected author. It is fairly pulpy (in a good way) and I am struck by how casually circumstances pile up by sheer coincidence to help move the plot along. I always second-guess myself while writing, always striving for "realism". This may be foolish in the crime genre.
I myself don't mind a little artistic license to help a story along. An element of the fantastic is a good thing, I think. If this story wasn't spurred on by some amazing happenings then why write it down? For example, few stories are written about a caper gone right, only one gone horribly wrong. So, what of the blind luck that moves a book along from plot point to plot point? How forgiving are you? I give authors a lot of leeway, more than I give myself. I constantly revise to make things less dependent on coincidence. Organic and true are my mantras.
Should I loosen the reins a bit? It certainly would make things easier. And when a writer of renown and a forty-year career can get away with it, why not me? Ah, there's the rub. I think established writers are given a pass on that sort of thing. Maybe it's just the fact that a highly entertaining book can trump some wild coincidence but I think people scrutinize freshman authors much more over style and plot devices. It's not a bad thing. Having readers be on guard with a finely tuned BS detector is not a bad thing. But getting readers to go along with some suspect plot workings just because you are telling them one hell of a yarn would be even better!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Put off procrastination

I write at night. I work during the day, as most of us do. I am a TV editor and I'm currently working on a documentary series that is pretty intense trying to make it all work and make sense. In general I use a tremendous amount of my creative brain power during the day job and often find that there's not much left by nightfall. That's my excuse anyway to put things off.

Last night I didn't really feel like writing after I got out to the office around 10:00, answered some emails, checked around the blog world for anything I missed and worked on finishing the press release for One Too Many Blows To The Head. That put it around 11:15. Easy enough to call it a night but I soldiered on working towards my minimum goal of 1000 words a day on the new book. Not sure if I would write anything worthwhile or even get beyond 50 words or so I plunged in. I'm glad I did. I ended up with some nice moments and things I didn't know the story needed until I got there. I ended up with about 1500 words and I was really happy with it. Just goes to show you that sometimes all that is needed to get the creative juices flowing again is just to start the juicer. Just keep typing. Forward progress that needs to be heavily edited is still better than no progress at all.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

New novel

My wife hates that I never talk about my work while I'm working on it. Call it superstition but I've had enough ideas flame out during the writing. Since I started out as a screenwriter also, there is nothing more annoying to me than someone talking about the script they are "writing" I put that in quotes because 90% of all scripts that are being "written" are actually not. They are being thought about and being used to get into some girl's pants at a party. I actually wrote 17 screenplays. Many total crap. A few I actually got paid for. None of the movies ever got made but that's a minor detail.
But I digress. I'm working on a new novel. There. I said it. I hit the 19,000 word mark tonight so I think it's real. It has kept me from working on shorts which I know I need to get back to. Keep the name out there, you know.
I have a full outline of another that I want to get to and Jennifer and I are working on the outline for a sequel to One Too Many Blows To The Head but I vow to finish this thing before I let myself get too distracted. It should be able to wrap up by mid Sept at the rate I'm going and then it's back to the start with the old red pen to take out the crap bits and make it better in the only-slightly-crappy bits. At that point I will put up some selections and see if anyone thinks it is anything worthwhile.
So there you go. New novel is working. The old novel, The Room Next To Room 5, needs a re write. I hate rewrites. I bet I get through these other two books before I go back to that one. A lot I love in it. A lot that makes me cringe. Mostly the open. Why does it take so long to get going? What was I thinking? Take 10,000 words out. That would be a start. But for now, this new one is keeping me entertained so I know there must be something to it.
So I'm talking about my work. Now if I can just get someone to listen...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Back to the crime

Just finished a palette cleansing book. A sweet romance set in a sleep midwestern town. Now it's back to the crime! Where to start? Dig into my HUGE pile of TBR Hard Case or that Gischler that I haven't gotten to yet? Fighting the urge to go buy something new. I want to pick up A Bad Day For Sorry but can't justify the hardcover price with this much in my TBR pile. Also want to check out many books by new writer friends. Damn my hour long lunch break? Why can't I take 3 hours and just work harder the rest of the time?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Save the Date

We have a tentative release date of October 1st. Things could change but if all goes according to plan our little book will be released into the big wide world on that blustery autumn day. Soon we will have a pre-release order page so people can get copies hot off the press on the first day. There is a good chance that it will be only my Dad and maybe Jennifer's Dad too but maybe we can get a few pre orders and make us look good. You never know. I'll post a link once it is up.
I forgot to ask what the date is for the Murder on the Wind anthology I am a part of but it will be around the same time.
I wish we were bringing our daughter home from China that soon but a book will have to suffice until that happens.
In September I am planning to make this more of a real blog. I have two followers as of now (Hi Paul) and I know there is little to no reason to visit here very often but I'll try to change that and put various rantings and musings and stuff sure to get me in trouble.
Also coming in September will be a fiction contest. We will have autographed copies of One Too Many Blows To The Head to win along with perhaps a bigger prize for the top winner. More on that later.
So rest up and enjoy the summer for the remainder of August because September begins the big push to release day. We need everyone's help to spread the word.

1st blog-style musing:
Just got my copy of the latest Hard Case Crime book from the book club in the mail today. In a long line of excellent covers, this may be the best if only for the orientation. Bravo again HCC!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

We have a cover!

I have been asked for a lot of favors over the years. I'm happy to do most of them, at least the ones for people I like. I still hate asking for favors of my own. It was with great hesitation that I asked one of my longest standing friends, artist Marc Sasso, to do a cover for our book....for free. This guy makes his living as an artist and gets paid bucks for it so it was really presumptuous of me to even ask for a favor like this hoping only that almost two decades of friendship would be enough. Then I had the audacity to art direct him. I sent him some reference photos, described exactly the image I wanted and took most of creative process away from him (I was trying to make it easy on him) I was even asking him to work in a style that is not really his wheelhouse. He usually does stuff with swords, demons and lots of muscles. He's done album covers for Dio and Rob Halford for Christ sake!
Well he did it, and did he ever. We love our new cover. Marc remains a dear friend, one who I now owe a huge favor.
Hell I loved the image so much I used it on the front AND back. I hope I didn't dork up the image with all the type that I laid over it.